Day 162: (22.27 miles)
mile 2480.01 – 2502.28
Even though we did not take a zero, our legs, the condition of our feet and the newly added weight to our packs in the form of a five day resupply was of little consequence to us this morning. We are on our next to last leg of this long and wonderful journey and we’re eager to get moving. We had heard that this would be one of the “toughest” legs since the Sierras, and had decided to treat this like a “Hell Week” scenario from our college sports days. There will be no getting around it, we will just have to work through it. We may be miserably tired and worked over, but it’s only a 100 miles and it will be over in a week. The reward, at the end of the week, will be a bakery with delicious treats, and better yet, we will be that much closer the completion of our quest. Twenty miles a day was our goal. Any more than 20 would be considered “bonus” miles. Our friend, Arizona, had told us that he had planned for 25 mile days through this section, but had barely made 20 each day. We figured we were in for a challenging week.
One thing we noted as we walked, was that the scenery was striking, and as we climbed it became more dramatic, even in the grey of the morning overcast. Wildlife was more abundant than we had ever recalled before on the trail. Deer,
grouse (which still continue to allude us in our quest for an on trail “fresh chicken” dinner), chipmunks with bulging cheeks, and birds that would alight in front of us creating a cascading wake of flittering feathers, and best of all BEARS!!! We spied 9 in total. Three sows and six cubs.
They were in a meadow below us filled with blue berry bushes. The sows were feeding as the cubs galavanted around, tackling each other and wrestling. We had plenty of distance between us, so I was fairly confident were not going to be the subject of a FarSide comic.
We climbed all morning and were mostly in a fog of sorts that kept the temperature on the cooler side, so much so that I wore my goofy wool hat and gloves a good portion of the day. Fields of ripe and tasty blue berries covered the meadows, hillsides and lined the edges of the trail. It smelled of blueberry muffins most of the day. Early on, a SOBO section hiker who was “finally going to finish Washington” stopped to talk to us and gave us a “heads up” about the water situation. She told us that we should get water just before Lake Janus, as there would be no “good” water for about 14 miles.
We thanked her for the info, and watered up as she suggested. After coming upon about ten “good” water sources, as in we would hear and see streams and waterfalls within a minute of the trail, we began to think the hiker was either deaf, blind, and/or was messing with us thru-hikers in an attempt to see if we would bite on the scarce water situation. We would come upon a water source and say to each other,’Nope, no water here. Nothing to see. Better get a move on,’ and laugh. This kept us entertained for some time, as the miles fell off. At one point we were doing the math for the week, and discovered that we had essentially “out-smarted” ourselves in not taking a day off, and getting a jump on the week’s miles. It seems that if we stick to our 20 mile a day, over five days, plan that we would arrive in Stehekin Saturday evening. The problem was that our resupply package was sitting at the Stehekin post office, and they were closed by 1 pm. The bus from the trail to town (provided we made the noon one) wouldn’t arrive at the Landing (where the post office is located) till 1:15. After that, the post office wouldn’t be open till 10 am Monday morning. Oh Oh. Houston we have a problem. So much for leisurely 20 mile days, and a mid-day nap. We were going to have to grind out some serious bonus miles, or take a few days off in Stehekin. We entertained the thought of two days off for about a minute, but we were like horses within sight of their barn and nixed that option. Maybe we could call the post office and have it forwarded to the Ranch where we had booked a night for Saturday night. Great, no cell service. Strike that plan. The next idea was to hike hard and grind out enough miles so that Paul could get get up early Saturday morning to make it to High Bridge and the 9am bus into Stehekin. Better, yet. We will text our friend Jody via Delorme and have her call the post office and see if there is any chance they will stay open on Saturday till just after the bus arrives at 1:15pm, so we (and other hikers) can get their packages Saturday. This would buy Paul some more time to get to the bus at noon. It was a foregone conclusion that I was not going to be able to knock down 15 miles before noon on Saturday, and certainly not before 9am. Luckily there is a 3pm and 6pm bus into town. As we were walking and mulling over our predicament, Seeds came up behind us. What the heck? He was supposed to be waay ahead of us by now. We greet each other and stop and talk for a bit. Seeds explains that he got a late start, as he had decided to spend another day with his girlfriend Brittany. As Seeds is young, strong and fast, he plans on doing two 30 mile days, maybe three, and a 10 miler into Stehekin so he can arrive Friday. Brittany will be meeting him in Stehekin, and he plans to take two days off there with her. We tell him about our mileage and resupply predicament. He offers to pick up our package for us. Problem solved…sort of. Seeds (whose proper name is Thomas) will need a note from us to be able to pick it up and even then, there is no guarantee that the post office will even allow him to receive the package. In any event, it is worth a try. I quickly pen a note, tearing a page from my waterproof notebook’s paper journal. Both ours and his, full and proper names are exposed. It feels awkward to address each other by proper names on the trail. Seeds examines the note, folds it and places in a side pocket. I hope this works. We text Jody again, and add a request to see if Seeds (aka. Thomas) can pick up our package for us instead. We step aside so Seeds can get to knocking out his enormous miles, thank him for helping us out, and tell him we will see him on Saturday. We amble on, and then it hits us. What if we can’t find Seeds once we get to Stehekin? There is no cell service now, or even in Stehekin, to be able to coordinate where to meet. How big is this place? Why do you need a bus to get everywhere? This should be interesting. Tune in at the end of the week. The rest of the day, with the exception of the last 2 miles (of course) follow a contour line and are fairly uneventful and easy. We decide that we should try and knock out 2 more miles for “insurance” purposes. We water up for a series switchbacks that climb for 1500ft over 2 miles. At this point we must commit to the additional miles, as, based on the topo map, there will be no place to camp along the way if we “change” our minds. In fact, there are no places identified as “campsites” on Halfmile’s or Guthook’s apps where we intend to get to. Our plan is to get to the Cady Creek Trail Junction as it looks like there might be a flat place or two to set up camp. It is not until nightfall that we reach an acceptable place to throw down. So much for an “easy” 20, but not bad for day one of “hell week”.